Through their words: Julie Seal

June 05, 2023

Julie Seal, who is of Cree-Métis and Italian descent, graduated in 2022 with her BA in kinesiology and Indigenous studies. She was the 2020-2021 grand prize award winner of the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition for her Special Olympics Home Workouts program, and currently works for Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I·SPARC) as their provincial HealthBeat coordinator.

Julie is the recipient of several donor-funded awards including the Y.P. Heung Foundation Post-Secondary Entrance Award; Dorothy and Alex Macdonald Bursary; First Nations, Métis, and Indigenous Student Association Bursary; Scotiabank Faculty of Arts Scholarship; and RBC Undergraduate Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award for Indigenous Students.

In Julie's words:

I’ve traveled a long road to get to where I am today. After years of working odd service jobs, I decided to go back to school. Teaching fitness classes seemed to be the only time I truly felt like I was making a positive difference, and I realized that if I were to continue along the path of short-term jobs that didn’t bring me joy, I would eventually burn out. I called SFU to see if the two-year associate degree I earned almost 10 years ago could now count towards a bachelor’s degree. In September 2020, I started my third year at SFU at the age of 30.

My first semester at SFU, I was like a fish out of water. I am so thankful for the donor support I received because I would have otherwise given up right then. I’m also proud that I was the successful recipient of these awards because donors valued the importance of community engagement, and wanted to invest in someone who would give back and celebrate people and communities in a meaningful way. I started out volunteering in the community with Special Olympics to build up my resume, but it then got me thinking about how I can connect with people. Fast forward 11 years later, I’m still volunteering with them. This ultimately shaped where I wanted to go with my career.

Today, I do health and fitness screening for Indigenous communities, which is something I really enjoy. For anyone who is looking to make a change in their lives—it’s never too late. If you have a goal, break it into little steps. If you’re thinking about going back to school, then just start with getting your application in and don’t think about anything else. If you’re considering applying for a scholarship, then do it! Even if you don’t feel fully qualified, put yourself out there and focus on what you do bring. You truly miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.

In honour of National Indigenous History Month, we asked four students and alumni to share their perspectives, as well as reflect on their SFU experience, the impact of donor funding on their studies, and their hopes for the future. Read their stories: